When you reach a plateau in your training, it maybe time to look for help from a new source. Junior showjumper Charlie Dawson, 14, had hit that point at Horse of the Year Show last year.

“We reached a certain level and knew we needed proper advice,” Charlie’s mother Kerrie, told H&H at Arena UK at the beginning of the month. Charlie and her pony Maradonna had finished 1st on Saturday 1 March and 2nd on Sunday 2 March in the Fairfax winter JA classic (for full report, see H&H 6 March issue).

H&H’s reporter described her round as “a determined opener that nailed Saturday’s class with a risk-taking, ultra-light turn to the penultimate oxer.”

Charlie’s turn around took place at last October’s Horse of the Year Show.

“We didn’t jump a clear until Carl Curtis helped — and then we finished 4th,” recalls Kerrie.

Charlie and her 4 ponies have been training with Carl once or twice a week ever since.

As Charlie’s win was dependent on her risk-taking round, we asked Carl for his 6 tips on how to nail a clear round.

  1. Always walk the course accurately instead of talking to other riders.
  2. Look at the next fence as early as possible and keep looking at it.
  3. Tell your horse or pony as early as possible where you are going and keep him in your hand.
  4. Keep yourself and your horse balanced.
  5. Keep an even rhythm — or try to.
  6. Land on the correct leg after each jump.

So what is it about Carl’s training that has made the difference to Charlie? We asked him to explain.

What makes you different from other trainers?

I tell pupils what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I like to teach people who want to learn.

What’s your pet hate?

A rider blaming a horse or pony for their mistake and pulling them up sharp, smacking them in the mouth.

Share with us your signature exercise

I work a lot on landing properly after a fence — not in a heap. I’ll put up a cross pole up into the corner of the school. If the rider rides properly, it makes the horse land on the correct leg. A lot of riders haven’t a clue of what leg they are on and that is a real must.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?

With time and patience you will always get results, rather than with brute force.

If we were to ask your pupils, what would be the one thing they all say you continually shout?

Soften your hands and sit up.

Carl is based at Hatfield Woodhouse, Doncaster and can be contacted on 07921 645679.